Sex scan­dal dou­ble stan­dard

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

When Repub­li­can Rep. Mark Fo­ley was caught chas­ing con­gres­sional pages, he got ex­actly what was com­ing to him. In a bliz­zard of cov­er­age (1,400 sto­ries, ac­cord­ing to Google news), Mr. Fo­ley’s creepy be­hav­ior was ex­am­ined from ev­ery pos­si­ble an­gle. No­body wanted to hear that the con­gress­man’s stupid and ob­jec­tion­able be­hav­ior was con­fined to e-mails and text mes­sages. His im­me­di­ate res­ig­na­tion didn’t quiet the furor. When two years of in­ves­ti­ga­tions found no crime, the re­sults got barely a peep.

Whether the press feed­ing frenzy around Mr. Fo­ley’s dis­grace was jus­ti­fied or not, the ex­plo­sion of cov­er­age was cer­tainly un­der­stand­able, even pre­dictable. That re­al­ity is what makes cov­er­age of Kevin Jen­nings, Pres­i­dent Obama’s “safe school czar” some­thing of a mys­tery.

Mr. Jen­nings brings all the sleaze of Mr. Fo­ley. Sex and the un­der­aged? Check. An older man? Check. Po­ten­tial mis­be­hav­ior by a gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial? Check.

And the Jen­nings case brings a lot more: A “safe schools czar” who failed to re­port a statu­tory rape? An ed­u­ca­tion leader who en­cour­aged a 15-year-old stu­dent to be comfortable with sex­ual abuse? A fed­eral of­fi­cial who ig­nored a law re­quir­ing him to re­port even the pos­si­bil­ity of a crime?

And it is not just sex, there’s a po­lit­i­cal an­gle, too. Since tak­ing of­fice, the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has been ham­mered by re­peated break­downs in its vet­ting process. Ap­pointees who don’t pay taxes. An ap­pointee who signed on to ac­cu­sa­tions that the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion was com­plicit in the Sept. 11 ter­ror­ist at­tacks. And now an ap­pointee who thinks sex be­tween an adult and a 15-year-old is no big deal.

All those facts aside, from the me­dia’s per­spec­tive, the sto­ries aren’t even re­motely sim­i­lar. Mr. Jen­nings hasn’t been hit with 1,400 sto­ries or 140 or even 14. With the ex­cep­tion of Fox News, which dis­cov­ered new au­dio-taped ev­i­dence in the case, Mr. Jen­nings’ story has been ig­nored.

So far, the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion and Mr. Jen­nings him­self have re­fused to an­swer any ques­tions. That’s not so tough when most of the press isn’t even both­er­ing to ask them. If this were a Repub­li­can ad­min­is­tra­tion, the press furor would be deaf­en­ing.

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